Saturday, January 14, 2017

Books, Records, and Recess Coffee

Not exactly the shop I'm dreaming of.
I’m dreaming of an independent bookstore in Syracuse. We have a Barnes & Noble that is good and was great when Adrienne was bringing in writers and readers by the bucket. I’m grateful our Barnes & Noble survived the Amazon onslaught and hope it will refocus on books rather than the Nook. I’m happy with the used bookstores in Eastwood, each with their own charm. But I want an independent bookstore. I have a few ideas for it.
It’s tough to find a seat at Recess Coffee on Westcott. They’re occupied by people working on laptops, reading books, having conversations. The coffee is tremendous. The shop is locally owned. It is anchor of the Westcott neighborhood. I walk there often. Recess is a good model for an independent bookstore.
The store would have four goals:
  1. Sell books in Syracuse and be intensely local.
  2. Sell records because they are odd and odd is good.
  3. Be a partnership with Recess Coffee.
  4. Focus on seating, gathering, and community.
It would be a destination, not just a place to get a book (or record) and go away. It would be a place where you stay, read, talk, listen, and drink coffee. If this is an odd business plan, good. Odd is better than rich.
In keeping with that, there would be no WiFi. I have loved the free WiFi at Recess, but this store should be about connecting with more than the internet. I don’t care to shorten people’s stay by banning laptops and cellphones. I just want an analog place. I’ve been to places in which I expected WiFi, found it lacking, and after a bit of resistance come to realize I prefer it.
A bookstore should bring people together in analog ways. There’s nothing terrible about digital, but it doesn’t build community. Ebooks won’t make a bookstore. Barnes & Noble is coming around to this idea. Their focus is back on books, music, and coffee, the physical things we go out of our homes for. A local independent bookstore could do all of this and keep more of our money local, building and supporting even more local community.

I don’t know how to start a business, but I would support the place I’m describing. I would bring my family and friends. I would hold gatherings there and get to know the staff and owners. I would make it my place. Anyone feel like doing some of this for/with me? I’ll meet you at Recess and we can talk it over.